Wednesday, December 05, 2007

DAY 61: Strathalbyn to Meningie

Weds 5th December 2007
98 km @17.1 km/hr
sunny, 24 deg C
Wind mostly SSE - tailwind turning to headwind
Distance to date 4076 km (2547 miles)

Lie-in again as I intended to wait for the book shop opening at 9, and after brekkie had chat with French Canadian young couple riding here and there. Lovely sunny morning with fluffy white clouds and Little Correlas making a BIG noise with their demented screeching (forgiven because birds can do no wrong). On arrival at bookshop noticed that they don’t open till 10 - doh! Time waits for no man so off I set for Wellington, some 50km away due east.
Beautiful ride, slight SSE tailwind and bowling along at 20 km/hr with little effort feeling very positive and almost in flow state. Wine country - wealthy area - nice houses, but curiously sterile to my way of thinking - maybe too nice? .

Reached Wellington within 3 hours but having expected a little coastal village there was no sign of the sea and nothing much more than a hotel / CP / roadhouse along with a billion flies, most of which were exploring my available orifices. Still feeling very positive though - probably still on a high following the fantastic 5 days I spent in Adelaide, but also the first day for weeks that my nether bits were not playing up - perhaps the break off the bike has encouraged healing at last. I lunched at the roadhouse on a very nice Cornish pastie and FUIC, managing to decline a huge pastie on offer despite the enthusiasm of the serving lady - it’s as big as a whale she said, and I didn’t disagree with her, but it was too much for even me at 12 noon.
Wellington is on the west bank of the Murray River (isn’t Murray-Darling one of the world’s largest rivers? (2 pics below) So had to get the steel-roped ferry for the 3 minute journey across to the east side (see pic). The landscape here was much the same as to the west - sheep pasture / grain fields i.e. Open. However the wind was not so strong so continued to make good progress even though I turned 90 degrees onto Highway 1 again and headed due south. This road leads into the Coorong coastal NP where the birdies are brilliant apparently. Shame I couldn’t buy a birdie book (I had the chance in Adelaide but didn’t take ‘cos I thought it would be too heavy - now I’ve realised the opportunity it’s too late).
I’ve been testing out the new Sony Walkman MP3 player which I bought mainly for the speech recording - to rec
The road had been pretty flat for 70km but became a bit more hilly towards the end, and also the wind picked up and was straight in the face, so speed dropped quite a bit. You just never know how conditions are going to change over the day - it’s often a surprise. Still made Meningie before 4 and before I hit the town centre I had clocked the library, found a nice fast (and free) computer and within the hour had uploaded everything - hurray!
The town is quite nice and tidy, and the CP is excellent - never seen such clean toilets, and I told the management so. It’s set right on the beach inside a huge lagoon, and already the birds were starting to appear - my first cattle egret this trip, along with the ubiquitous pelicans again.
I pitched 20m from the camp kitchen, got the plonk in the fridge, and happily made half a dozen new friends since there were a few tenters cooking in here - it’s not often such a social occasion unfortunately. One couple were around my age and from north of Birmingham, and left Perth about the same date as me, so we are going about the same pace - I can expect to see them again which is good. I also talked to couples from Switzerland and France. I did myself a sausage and veg barbie and drank a little (cool!) Chardonnay.
All in all a cracking day, and the prospect of some exciting riding ahead.

DAY 60: day off in Strathalbyn

Tues 4th December 2007
cloudy, 23 deg C

Decided to spend another day here and explore the Scottish connection, not to mention the 3 bakeries and umpteen cafes. Plus the birds won me over too - I had to determine what species the thousands of white ‘parrots’ are that are taking the town by storm. They’re all white, VERY noisy with their demented screeching in deafening flocks of 100 or more at a time - yes! - Little Corellas! I thought the Galahs were loud but these things take the biscuit hands down. They dominate in every part of the town.
Hows this for a hedge Lyn? (right). Jealous??

So a nice lie-in until 8 was in order, then back to the peanut butter and jam muffins for brekkie - yummy - and coffee as I leave the stove set up if I’m staying another day. First stop was the TIC and raid of the literature / cross examine the ladies about what’s what locally. Very fruitful too, spoke to the boss man who knew all about the Scottish origins, although to be truthful there isn’t a lot to say about it. In short, the Rankine bros arrived on the good ship ‘Fairfield’ in 1839 and set up home on the river Angas here. They noted the good quality grazing land and started to keep cattle brought from the UK. The original house, started in 1842 is still here, and i went to have a look - it’s a Christian retreat now.
The town is very pretty and well-loved. There has been no inappropriate development to ruin it - well done all involved in this; it’s paid off. The centre of the town is divided into 2 by the river Angas but this has lent to good landscaping and attractiveness. The buildings are pretty original for the most part - it is a very pleasing place. Some locals may have thought that the corellas were desecrating the place, but I like there raucousness and vigour. The man at the TIC said they come south to this green and (rare) well-watered place from drier climes in the north. I also got some very good info about what there is to see down the line between here and Melbourne, including 2 RAMSAR listed birdie sites at the Coorong and Bool Lagoon, so better keep the binoculars handy (and maybe get a proper birdie book). Lots to look forward to then!
First house in Strathalbyn (1842) (above)

The bookshop wasn’t open today but opens at 9 tomorrow so I’ll see what they’ve got, and see if they’ll take my Ned Kelly book in p/e.
I spent an hour in the library on free internet, but couldn’t upload pics, and as I’d forgot my card reader couldn’t upload my notes to the blog either. There’s always loads to do every time I log on though - I get quite a few e-mails. It was nearly lunchtime so had a massive beef salad on crusty roll to fortify me again.
I kind of lazed around most of the afternoon reading the paper, watching the birds etc. (feathered) and riding around exploring; very pleasant. It wasn’t sunny, but not cold either.
I bought myself a 2l box of wine again - heavy and bulky to carry but I do enjoy a glass of an evening, and a box is the only way really - can’t drink a full bottle (usually!).
I bought some meths to see how the MSR stove performed with it, but it didn’t, and when i looked at the instructions meths indeed was not listed among the suitable fuels, so I reverted to unleaded and all was well again. Had some of Peter’s delicious Hungarian salami with spaghetti / tomatoes / zuchini (courgette) - very nice.
I have enjoyed Strathalbyn but look forward to getting going again and seeing what unfolds 'down the road'.